I am trapped at home. I cannot – dare not – venture out into the white-over world that surrounds me. I have to don the wellies just to put stuff in the bin which is six feet from the back door. Even then I require at least one spare hand with which to grip the wall. (I originally wrote ‘grip the world’ there – a Freudian slip I would like to think, but more likely a subconscious recognition of reality. I am currently having one of those mornings when I mis-type everything. I use only two fingers and the keys are fairly big; how can my aim be so flippin’ awful? I will tend to all of the bits underlined in red later – but not the British idioms to which the autocorrect is particularly averse.) I like the look of snow. It looks great, but why is it so bloody cold? Why is it so slippery? I realise that there are plenty of people who would be very unhappy to discover that it had ceased to be so – skiers, ice hockey players, kids on sledges, the makers of ‘You’ve Been Framed’ – but those of us with low-level, frost-generated stability issues would be more than happy to find that it had acquired a little more traction. I wonder if Velcro soles would work?
Anyway, the fact is that I currently cannot run and so, like some Guru that The Beatles revered, unaware that he was only riding them to fame, I have decided to impart onto you, dear reader, all that I have so far learned about running. The first thing that I have learned about running is that, after six months, I still don’t like it very much. I never wake in the morning looking forward to a run: I never set off with anything other on my mind than finishing it. However, whilst acknowledging that running offers me no enjoyment of whatsoever, I have grown to understand that it is essential to my wellbeing: mental as well as physical. It is my thrice weekly ‘reset’. Don the trainers and hit ‘Control-Alt-Delete’. Nothing occupies my mind whilst running other than the immediate issues associated with doing so: not falling over; not running into anything/anyone; not passing out outside the chip shop. It is a necessary evil – like a belt: you really don’t need it until your trousers fall down.
So, the second thing I have learned about running is that I miss it when I don’t do it. When I find an excuse not to run – and I have many: I can be very creative – I regret it almost at once. I have two choices:
- Ignore myself. Perfectly feasible. Everybody else does it perfectly well.
- Clean the drains.
I feel slightly ashamed of myself when I have made an excuse not to run. Especially since my usual antidote to shame is chocolate and whisky. I schedule a run for the following day which, short of thinking of another excuse, I take. Missing a run always makes the subsequent excursion more difficult: I am out of breath sooner, in fear of death earlier. I regret having missed my run the day before. I vow never to make an excuse again. I marvel at my own weak-will. I guess it could be my superpower. (These are the thoughts that actually occupy my mind.)
The third – and I promise, last – thing I have learned about running is that it has a totally unpredictable effect on me. Some days I breeze around my little course. I feel so good that I pop in an extra kilometre. I smile at people for goodness sake! Other days, I set off in the same state of mind, in the same state of physical disintegration, and find myself running through treacle. Every step is an effort and I have to resolutely battle against the urge to just give in and walk – which, sadly, could be quicker. Nobody appears able to offer an explanation for this. Is it a cosmic phenomenon, or the slice of cake I ate at midnight? It must have something to do with my metabolism I guess (literally, as I have no idea what a metabolism is) but, if that is the case, my metabolism is frighteningly unreliable. Perhaps the external white-out offers me the perfect excuse to find out why: a profitable way to spend the hours which, in less skiddy times, would be used tramping the streets.
Or I could just drink hot chocolate and move the bin closer to the door…
The next entry in my running diary, ‘The Running Man on Not Running’ is here
The previous entry in my running diary, ‘The Running Man and the Hip’ is here.
The first time I donned the trainers is chronicled here in ‘Couch to 5k’. You’re welcome.